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Журнальный клуб Интелрос » Неприкосновенный запас » №4, 2017

Summary

[PP 310 – 311 of the issue's paper version]

 

The 114th NZ issue has a major theme running through it: democracy as a system of various conventions – from economic and political to sociocultural – and the transformations some of these conventions undergo in a number of socio-political contexts. The issue opens with a piece on the state of democratic institutions and procedures in Russia. Dmitry Travin talks to Viktor Sheinis, a prominent political figure of the 1990s and a member of the political committee of the Yabloko party. The main topic of their discussion is the course of actions taken to establish democracy in perestroika-era and post-Soviet Russia, as well as the current state of affairs in the country and the prospects it faces. The conversation, titled “Contemporary Russia and Democracy: Who, How and When”, is published in NZ Interview.

Terrorism – both the fight against it and the legal situation concerning the rights of victims of terrorist attacks – has grown into one of the gravest challenges for today's democracy. Different aspects of the problem are considered in the first topical section of this issue, “Taking the State to Court: Terrorism Cases in International Courts”. It opens with “The Strasbourg Court: War-Time Laws Do not Apply to Terrorist Attacks” by Yulia Schastlivtseva. The piece explores several storylines: it starts with an outline of the 2004 Beslan tragedy before chronicling the way the case was heard in Russian courts and, later, in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The topic is further developed in a conversation with the human rights activist Kirill Koroteev, the legal director of Russia's Memorial Human Rights Centre, which represents Beslan victims at the ECHR. The section concludes with an article by Ilaria Bottigliero, an international law expert, “Realizing the Right to Redress for Victims of Terrorist Attacks”. Bottigliero uses three examples to expound on legal consequences of terrorist attacks: the 1980 bombing at the train station in Bologna; the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA; and the 2004 train explosions in Madrid.

Another vital issue affecting the way a democratic society functions is a relationship between the secular state, the church and various public groups. This is the subject of the Culture of Politics section. It begins with the second part of Viktor Shnirelman's study “Who Is Insulting People's Feelings and How: Orthodox Christianity and Radicalism”. It talks, in particular, about a recent high-profile campaign launched by Orthodox radicals against Alexey Uchitel's film “Matilda”. Sergey Gogin's piece on “Priest Online”, an online missionary project, offers an interesting illustration of the Russian Orthodox Church's present-day activities.

Morals and Mores section focuses on processes taking place in contemporary Russia's public sphere, including the media. Maksim Kotlyarov surveys the history of techniques used to monitor public opinion, the press and open data in Russia, as well as the influence of this monitoring on the socio-political situation and its dynamics. Ksenia Eltsova tracks the development of elitism in the so-called “quality media”; a concept that, according to its creators, lives up to the expectations of some of the Russian middle class.

This NZ issue includes two more topical sections, which focus on phenomena typical for a democratic society and linked to its self-perception. This includes, first of all, the concept of cultural and historical heritage, and in particular, the way it shapes the image of the contemporary city, as well as urbanist politics. The second topical section opens with an article by the American historian and geographer David Lowenthal, renowned for his contribution to the theory of cultural heritage. “Material Preservation and Its Alternatives” is published here in translation. It is followed by “From History to Heritage – From Heritage to Identity: In Search of Concepts and Models”, by the British urban researcher Gregory Ashworth, who specialised in territory marketing. Here the issues raised by Lowenthal are successively moved from a purely theoretical to a theoretical-practical plane. The American architect and urbanist Christopher Koziol has developed a scheme that, in his view, reveals the structure of the contemporary “heritage politics” discourse. The heritage theme is further considered in a piece by the French social scientist and art historian Nathalie Heinich, aptly titled “The ‘Making’ of Cultural Heritage”. Stepan Sureyko's contribution to this section is an essay on how an academic approach to history (and the associated spectrum of views regarding the past and the protection of its material remnants) is related to contemporary heritage politics. Finally, Mikhail Ilchenko applies theoretical arguments characteristic of the heritage discourse to a particular case, exploring the history, architectural image and present-day state of Uralmash area of Ekaterinburg.

The section Politics of Culture stands out somewhat from the rest of this issue. Its subject is the history of the reception of psychoanalysis. The pieces are thematically centred around “In Defence of Psychoanalysis” by Dmitry Uzlaner, a brief historical survey of the critical reception of Freudianism (and Sigmund Freud personally), which points to the dubious nature and inconsistency that sometimes characterise the grounds for this criticism. Commenting on Uzlaner's article, Viktor Mazin opines that any criticism of psychoanalysis is symptomatic and hence is of certain interest. As for the relationship between psychoanalysis and academic science, Mazin's thesis is as follows: “Looking once again at the relationship between psychoanalysis and academic science, the only thing one can say about it in the spirit of Lacan is that no relationship between them is possible”. Freud's heritage is further considered in the article by Alexander Smulyansky containing some arguments with regard to Jacques Lacan's famous work “The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious, or Reason Since Freud”.

Also in this NZ issue are the journal's regular columns by Alexey Levinson (Sociological Lyrics), who touches upon the history of Soviet and post-Soviet education and its attendant “social lifts”; and by Kirill Kobrin (Old World Chronicles), who dedicated his article to the memory of the prominent British art critic and writer John Berger, who died last January. The issue traditionally concludes with the Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review (by Alexander Pisarev) and New Books section.

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